How we Eat has Fundamentally Changed

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

How Brits eat has been fundamentally changed by the Covid pandemic, says Waitrose Food & Drink report. ‘These changes are here to stay. The ‘new normal’ that we all spoke about last year isn’t new anymore. It’s just normal.’

Britons’ relationship with food has been permanently altered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research by Waitrose, the upmarket supermarket chain. The retailer’s annual food report, which explores key trends from the past 12 months, found the way we shop, eat, and live have all been impacted by Covid-19, with a dramatic shift in everything from cooking habits to spending.

Waitrose said cooking has become “the new commute”, for example. Almost three quarters of people who have started working home - first brought about by lockdown - said cooking now provides the break between “work time” and “home time”.

Other changes include the way people buy food - and the amount they spend. “More than half us us value food more than we did pre-Covid,” Waitrose said. “70 percent of us value the role of supermarket workers more than we did, and 55 percent say our spending habits have changed for good.”

The internet is a necessity to most, yet a quarter of respondents told Waitrose they did their grocery shop online for the first time in 2020.

Not only have people moved to digital baskets, but they have also reduced the number of ‘trips’ - many have switched to fortnightly food shops, and 60 percent say they’ll carry on with the pattern after the pandemic.

Lockdown might be coming to an end - slowly but, hopefully, surely - but Waitrose also revealed 58 percent of people conceded they “secretly enjoyed the lack of pressure to go out”. Instead, they’ve been at home, enjoying winter BBQs, foraging for food, spritzers, and “tornado omelettes”, a Korean technique in which scrambled eggs are twisted by two chopsticks during the cooking process to create a soft, golden whirlwind in place of the traditional French fold.

Each year, Waitrose uses sales data from millions of shoppers, as well as information from retail experts and customer surveys (2,000 people who shop across a range of retailers were polled) to compile its report. The supermarkets executive director, James Bailey, said: “Our daily rituals, our attitudes towards supermarkets and the way we shop have been fundamentally reshaped by the pandemic. These changes are here to stay. The ‘new normal’ that we all spoke about back in the spring isn’t new anymore. It’s just normal.”